About Outdoor Christmas Reindeer
The association of reindeer with Santa which makes them such a potent symbol of Christmas cheer seems to originate in early nineteenth-century America. A version of a figure who occurs in many traditions, Santa particularly resembles the Dutch Sinterklaas and St. Nicholas of Myra, yet both rode a white horse. It was author Washington Irving who made the first recorded reference, in 1912, to the wagon Santa used to transport all his gifts through the sky.
The reindeer don't appear until an anonymous author wrote of them in a Christmas pamphlet for children in 1821. Reindeer can be seen in their natural habitat in Lapland, and a local belief that they could 'fly' may have arisen from the deer's observable taste for the fly agaric toadstool. Whatever its origin, this story of a sleigh drawn by flying reindeer would be established by the 1823 publication of the poem The Night Before Christmas (aka A Visit From St Nicholas), which establishes that there were eight, and names them.
Rudolph did not feature in this poem at all. It was a copywriter for Chicago's Montgomery Ward department store who first introduced the best loved of all the Christmas reindeer, for a festive pamphlet promoting the store. This would be launched for sale in book form in 1947, and the well-known song, written by the copywriter's brother-in-law, has fixed Rudolph indelibly in western culture.
Reindeer now say 'Christmas' even without a Santa, and outdoor Christmas reindeer can range from teams decorated and harnessed before a flying sleigh to a single naturally-posed deer. Outdoor Christmas decorations are designed to be waterproof and to withstand wind and sun, and it's particularly important with electrically illuminated deer that you choose one safe for outdoor use.